Reasons behind IT attrition

Reasons behind IT attrition

The issue of employee attrition is reaching alarming proportions and CEOs along with their HR managers are ready to take all-out measures to tackle the menace. Generally, the basis for these measures is either `satisfaction surveys' or ‘exit interviews'. But these two don't really reflect the true story behind people turnover.

During a five and half year study on attrition among software professionals I have, among other things, identified that software professionals have different aspirations at different stages of their career. If we divide their career into two experience levels, the aspirations can be described as follows:

Early career stage
(0-3 years).
These youngsters value money a lot . They perceive the best job as the one that offers a huge amount of money. Foreign trips (mostly to the US) is next in priority. However, this is becoming increasingly irrelevant with most of the work now done offshore and client-interaction being facilitated by conference calls.

Another of their aspirations is to work on hot/cutting edge technology. They mainly resort to using popular media and employment advertisements to judge this. Hot technology, it may be noted, is different from `high-end' work.

The more mature professionals in this category also look at career from a slightly long-term perspective and thus look at exploring opportunities for learning - if it is explained properly to their advantage. Another factor peer and family pressure. The young software professionals always compare their present job with that of their ex-batchmates and colleagues.

The usual criteria that are discussed are the money and the project. Family members can influence their decisions.

Mid-career (5+years experience)
These adopt a strategic approach to their career needs. The company's placement in the software industry value chain becomes a key parameter for taking up a new job or leaving the present one.

They want to move up from body-shopping and coding kind of job to programming and business solutions companies. Most of the services people want to move to product companies because they are looking for challenges.

Secondly, they know that developing next level skills will only keep them ahead in the job-market, also finally resulting in better compensation. They also look for a job with higher level of responsibility.

At this juncture they begin to look at the organisation's culture. By now they would also have experienced variety in terms of leadership of supervisors (boss), performance appraisal system, top management competence, company's vision & mission, bureaucracy vis-à-vis meritocracy and so on.

Since software professionals have different priorities at different points of time, organisations need to structure their offer-mix while recruiting new hires, as well as promoting/advancing the potential ones. The same may be kept in mind while designing recruitment ads for focussed groups.

The author has been working at IIT Mumbai on campus placements since 1995.

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